Team says Russell not to blame for loss
By Tabby Soignier The Daily Reveille

October 10, 2006

Baton Rouge, LA (CSTV U-WIRE) -- At player interviews Oct. 2 before the game against the University of Florida, sophomore defensive end Tyson Jackson made a comment that seemed to sum up the outcome of the 23-10 loss to the Gators on Saturday afternoon.

"As the game goes on, both teams will make mistakes, but the team that makes the fewest mistakes is most likely to come out there with the victory," Jackson said.

After five turnovers Saturday, including a fumble on the 1-yard line and three interceptions by quarterback JaMarcus Russell, Jackson seemed to predict correctly. Unfortunately for Jackson and the Tigers, the prediction was not in LSU's favor.

After the defeat, the comments left on Internet forums from fans were not in Russell's favor either. Most fans who offered their critiques are ready to place him on the bench or, in the worst case scenario, run him out of town.

LSU coach Les Miles still is not second-guessing his quarterback's ability and refuses to place any blame on Russell.

"If you look at it in paper, he had three interceptions," Miles said. "The truth of the matter is he threw the ball at a receiver where it was a one-on-one route, and he had a 6-foot-2 receiver and a 5-foot-10 cornerback. We like that match up - we want that throw. The ball that [senior receiver] Dwayne Bowe caught and then later kicked out and knocked up in the air should have been a reception and allows us to continue down the field. Third was a pass that would have been caught for a touchdown that was really underthrown about three feet. Bowe had to go back for it, and that was caught in the end zone."

As insiders, Russell's teammates said their mistakes are to blame more than their quarterback's mishaps.

After fumble on the goal line in the second quarter during the snap for a quarterback sneak, it was not visible at first who committed the fumble. Center Brett Helms said he blames himself however, and said Russell did not have a chance to grasp the ball.

"I think I was too worried about blocking my guy before I got the snap," Helms said. "I don't think I got it high enough to give him a chance to get it. As soon as I thought that, I looked on the ground, and it was a fumble. If we mess up, it's all our faults. The way [Russell] has been playing, he's been good. There's not many mistakes out of him, so you can't point the finger at him."

Other plays that did not involve Russell also resulted in mistakes Florida capitalized on, adding to its victory.

Junior defensive back Chevis Jackson fumbled a punt early in the first quarter. The fumble was recovered by Florida's defensive lineman Lutrell Alford in Florida's redzone, setting up a touchdown six plays later to tie the game, 7-7.

"I just lost focus on it," Jackson said. "I was trying to make a play on the ball. I think that's what everybody tries to do, but I just lost focus on it."

Another teammate of Russell's who understands the impact of interceptions and turnovers is his backup Matt Flynn. Flynn spends most of his time on the sidelines observing the play calls from the coach to Russell. As a fellow quarterback, Flynn said there is nothing he can see to critique negatively.

"There's a lot of circumstances a quarterback cannot control during a game," Flynn said. "There were just a couple of tough breaks for him. I can't sit here and say I wouldn't have made the same mistakes. I'm not saying they're mistakes, but I can't say I wouldn't have done the same thing."

Regardless of whom fans or players blame, Miles said improvement is a must.

"There will be a greater attention to detail on offense, defense and special teams, not only by the coaches but by the players," Miles said. "I don't think there is any question that this football team is confident and understands that they are capable. I like this team."

(C) 2006 The Daily Reveille via CSTV U-WIRE

Football Home